DuPont is bringing nature and science together to convert agricultural crops to high performance materials and fuels. The tools and disciplines of chemistry, materials science, and chemical engineering are all critical to making renewably sourced products that meet all of the demanding requirements of our customers, with no compromise in performance or economics.
DuPont utilizes common crops such as corn and soybeans as sustainable agricultural feedstocks for its renewably sourced materials processes. Future feedstocks could come from:
- Other non-food agricultural sources such as switchgrass
- Agricultural byproducts like straw and corn stover
The crop goes through a milling and separation process to extract the feedstocks. Carbohydrates (sugars), oils, and proteins are the most common agricultural feedstocks.
Fermentation uses microbes that transform the feedstocks to form building blocks, similar to the centuries old technology that uses yeast to transform sugar into alcohol. Industrial Biotechnology uses genetic engineering to enhance the capabilities of natural microbes to metabolize feedstocks. To create the desired building blocks, agriculturally derived feedstocks are heated and/or reacted with other chemicals using traditional thermo-chemical processes.
Some building block chemicals can be used directly after purification steps in certain applications. In most cases further transformations are required to turn the building blocks into value-added materials
In May 2011, DuPont acquired a majority stake in Danisco A/S, including its Genencor division. Bringing together the expertise from Danisco, Genencor, and DuPont has yielded a unique combination of strengths in enzyme technology, materials science, and bioprocessing. Through a unique combination of agricultural, biotechnology, chemical and material science capabilities, coupled with the power of 2,500 talented individuals worldwide, DuPont Industrial Biosciences focuses on providing biobased solutions to meet the needs of a growing population while protecting our environment. We call it DuPont™ Genencor® Science.